Ceisteanna ó Cheannairí - Leaders' Questions

Gabhaim buíochas leis an gCeann Comhairle. At 8 o’clock this morning Joanna Sloan, a young nurse in Belfast, was the first person in Ireland to receive a vaccine for Covid-19. A little earlier a 90-year-old Fermanagh woman, Margaret Keenan, was the first person in Britain to receive the jab. We now await the vaccine roll-out plan for this part of the island. There is at last light at the end of the tunnel. Hopefully, this marks a turning of the tide in our fight against this virus and the beginning of the end.

Last Wednesday, the Government voted against paying student nurses and midwives. It then justified this decision by saying that they do not get paid because they do not do real work. It has broken its promises. Promises made by the Minister for Health, Deputy Stephen Donnelly, his predecessor, Deputy Simon Harris, Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil amount to nothing.

We are standing here today talking about the student nurses working without pay on the same day that the Government will increase pay for super junior Ministers and judges. These are not normal times. The ask of student nurses is always incredible but it is extraordinary during a pandemic.

I will share with the Taoiseach some of the messages I have been sent by student nurses and midwives in reaction to his decision. Alison writes:

We start our shifts at 7:30 am. By 8, we are rushing around carrying out observations, helping patients with toileting and washes. This will bring us up to 10:30/11. Twelve o'clock comes and we do medications, blood sugars, feeds and toileting. After lunch we try and get some documentation done, call doctors, check blood results and other tasks. Teatime comes and we are back assisting with feeds, toileting and medication.

It is outrageous that the Government is saying that they don't do real work.

Rebecca says that she lives at home, unable to afford student housing and she comes home every night from work fearful that she has contracted the virus and could pass it to her immunocompromised Dad.

Ella says that every student that was on placement was forced to give up their part-time work, the work that pays their bills. She is immunocompromised and felt in danger. She was on the ward with the highest number of Covid-19 patients in the hospital and she had to isolate.

Marie writes:

In third year, I dealt with a patient who had a major haemorrhage. The patient went into cardiac arrest. I ran for the crash cart, I alerted the nurses station to call the cardiac team, and I did chest compressions to try and keep that patient alive. The patient died. I drove home in silence and couldn't talk to my mother.

Sinead, a student midwife, says:

I have sat with women who are crying because their baby has been feeding all night. We are the ones who hold their hands and tell them everything will be ok. We are the ones who cry with them.

Roisin says:

Our college years are spent working thirteen hour shifts in understaffed hospitals where you are counted as a member of staff. This year is more exceptional. Students now can't work a paid job due to [fear of cross-contamination]. This creates enormous strain when it comes to paying rent, fees, transport and possibly supporting [a family].

These statements illustrate the real work, real lives and real struggles of student nurses and midwives. The Taoiseach should please tell them they will be paid, and paid properly.

Twenty years ago, we moved from an apprenticeship model of nurse education to a degree model. It was a fundamental shift and transformation in nurse education, sought by the nursing profession, particularly the nurses' unions. I introduced it myself as Minister for Health and Children. It was important in giving a higher degree of respect to the nursing profession within the overall health service hierarchy. This debate has been very much politicised and characterised by short-termism. It has been designed to put one group of politicians into one corner and another group in another via a simplistic motion that seeks to resolve the issue of public service pay and the critical issue of how best to educate medical and nursing students right across the health area. Essentially, what the Deputy is saying is that we should return to the apprenticeship model, which I do not think is a good idea. No student nurse should be exploited. First-year students are not meant to be treating Covid patients, and they are not meant to be treating patients, full stop. Their education in clinical placements should be protected. If it is not protected, it is unacceptable. As far as I am concerned, no exploitation of student nurses should or will be accepted by the Government.

At the heart of this is the question of whether we now want to protect the learning experience of nurses on the degree programme or allow ourselves to drift back to yesteryear, to 20 odd years ago and preceding decades, to the apprenticeship model, which was not ideal at all for student nurses at that particular time and which led to repeated calls for modernisation. We were asked to bring nurse education into the 21st century. I have spoken to the heads of nursing in some of the colleges, and I have spoken to the Chief Nursing Officer. This is an important point. I have absolutely no issue with reviewing, at a macro level, the question of whether we want to retain or evaluate the nursing degree programme in terms of protecting learning for students into the future. I am up for that. I believe we should do so because it is 18 years since the programme was created. In the interim, fourth-year nursing students get paid for the 36 weeks of their internship. First, second and third-year students do not; they get allowances and so on. The Minister has indicated that there is a review whose authors will report by the end of December 2020, which will deal with an increase in allowances for first, second and third-year students. The fourth-year student wage, which is up to €21,000 or €22,000 per annum, is also up for review. This is an immediate review with an independent chairperson who will verify the findings. Negotiations with the INMO have been ongoing, even prior to last week's vote. Prior to that vote, as the Deputy knows, the Government took a decision that the pandemic unemployment payment would be available to student nurses who could not do the part-time work in which they would have been engaged because of Covid-19 and the fear of cross-contamination and so on.

The payment is now available, as agreed between the Minister for Health, Deputy Stephen Donnelly, and the Minister for Social Protection, Deputy Humphreys. That was decided at last week's Cabinet meeting and is available to student nurses.

One nurse educator, the head of a particular college, said to me that this is critical from our perspective. Everything we fought for over the past 20 years is now at risk if we go back to thinking it is okay for nurse students to do every type of job in the hospital when they are meant to be learning. We have advanced nurse education in this country and brought it into the 21st century. That is the case not only at undergraduate level, but also at postgraduate level. That is important in terms of the professionalisation of women in the health service and the professionalisation of nursing. Nursing is no longer a poor relation to other professions within the health arena. That is ultimately at the core of this debate, if we want to go down a particular road.

Nobody is suggesting that we should drift backwards; far from it. We are absolutely insisting that students nurses and midwives must be acknowledged and paid for the critical tasks they carry out. We are insisting in this year and in these times above all other times, as we face into a pandemic, that we recognise and reward the real work of student nurses and midwives. Those students are among those who have kept our under-resourced and understaffed hospital system afloat. Those are the facts.

It is ironic of the Taoiseach to advance as a reason for not paying student nurses and midwives an argument about the professionalisation of nursing. Professionalisation of nursing cannot result in the pauperisation of student nurses and midwives. I have read their testimonies to the Taoiseach. Those are real, lived experiences and cannot simply be ignored, particularly this year, when the Minister for Health and his predecessor, Deputy Simon Harris, made concrete promises that student nurses and midwives would be recognised, rewarded and paid. That needs to happen.

The Deputy and everyone else knows that there have been ongoing discussions about this issue between the INMO and the Minister over the past number of weeks. Those discussions are continuing and will result in a review before the end of December on the allowances applying to student nurses.

I am trying to say to the Deputy that the days are over for saying it is all right for student nurses to be given the menial tasks, or whatever tasks, while they are supposed to be learning and going through an educational programme. An expensive infrastructure has been put in place in hospitals across the length and breadth of the country to protect the learning environment. We need to face up to that. It needs to be protected and it is wrong to exploit it. Any nurse who works and is asked to do certain tasks on particular rosters should be paid, but they should not be asked to do it in the first instance. That is the point. Why do we have preceptors, clinical nurse placement officers and second level clinical nurse managers, CNM2? Those management positions were created specifically to look after the degree programme in clinical placement. That is what I mean by the professionalisation of health education, to move away from where it was.

Nurse education and nursing have advanced a lot. I say again that there should be no exploitation of any student nurse in any hospital setting. It will not be accepted and that has been made clear to the HSE and to all and sundry. That is an important point that the Deputy is ignoring. She is playing politics and that is fine. I understand what she was at last week by tabling a motion, putting up the dashboard, going on social media and saying that the Government does not want to pay these students but Sinn Féin does. That is overly simplistic and the Deputy knows it. Public service pay and issues relating to education programmes of this kind were never dealt with via one simplistic motion in Dáil Éireann. The Deputy knows that as well as anybody else and it is time now to be honest about it too, in terms of how it is presented as a story.

Today is a truly historic day. Joanna Sloan, 28, from Belfast, a nurse working in her field, and Margaret Keenan, 90, originally from County Fermanagh and now in Coventry, received the first doses of the Covid-19 vaccine. They are obviously not the first people to receive it, but they are the first to receive it post trial. It is an historic day because science has delivered.

Science works. We now have vaccines. The scientists have done their work and have delivered. Now we, as public representatives, need to support the scientists who have delivered these vaccines. We must be very pro-vaccine.

Historically, I and my party have been very pro-vaccine, as the Taoiseach knows. We pushed in the last Dáil for the human papillomavirus, HPV, vaccine to be given to boys. I am delighted that has commenced. We fought in relation to other vaccines as well. I attended the global vaccination conference last year in Brussels. The deputy chief medical officer, CMO, was there as well.

I am concerned about utterances by some public representatives in the past and about the impact it is having on our citizens. I am concerned that many citizens are being fed lies and deliberate misinformation about vaccines at a critical time. I ask the Taoiseach publicly to deal with it. We all have a role here. Today, the Labour Party has written to all Deputies, Senators and MEPs, that is, to every national public representative, and has asked them whether they will sign up to and promote the vaccine and promote the public awareness behind the vaccine and its full roll-out. We hope it will be 100%. I ask the Taoiseach to lead and I ask everyone else to sign it and return it within a week. We need a public awareness campaign now, ahead of the vaccine roll-out, which hopefully will be early in the new year.

I ask the Taoiseach to consider one other factor. Much of the misinformation is spread on social media platforms. In this city, we have Twitter, Facebook, TikTok, Google and Instagram. We need to talk to them and deal with misinformation that is deliberately put out on those platforms. They all changed their algorithms and their rules in respect of the recent US election. They need to do so again with regard to the roll-out of this vaccine. It is important for people's lives. We in Ireland can lead on that if the Taoiseach uses his role to talk to these social media companies, which are now so powerful in relation to how messaging gets out. Will the Taoiseach consider that?

I thank the Deputy for raising the issue of the vaccine. It is a historic day and a vindication of science as the ultimate route to follow in dealing with this terrible virus that has wreaked such havoc across the world in terms of lives lost, of people becoming ill with long-term consequences and of economic and social upheaval. It has changed our way of living. I applaud the Deputy's initiative and I would have no difficulty in signing such a petition. We need to be strong and positive in support of vaccination to eliminate a virus which has caused devastation, ill health and death across the world.

The objective of vaccination, historically, has been to eliminate such diseases and viruses. The history of vaccination was an extraordinary one in the 20th century, in terms of healthcare and health outcomes. This is often forgotten as time moves on and that which was horrendous in one era becomes commonplace and of no consequence in the next era because of vaccines and medicines more generally. We need to make sure fake news does not get prevalence and does not get promoted on the digital platforms the Deputy referred to. That is a fair point.

I can recall all of the issues around the MMR vaccine when I was Minister for Health and Children and the huge damage that was done at the time. We had to put up with a measles outbreak for two or three years and children became very ill and, in some cases, lost their lives as a result of that campaign.

We await the outcome of the European Medicines Agency in respect of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine and then the Moderna vaccine on 11 January. The Government has announced today the provisional vaccine allocation strategy and the groups that will receive the vaccines in sequence, particularly the aged, those in our nursing homes and our healthcare workers as key priority groups. That is particularly important.

I will receive the blueprint from the task force on Friday. That will be the culmination of a lot of work undertaken by various work streams involving a lot of bodies. To be fair regarding the vaccine allocation strategy, the national immunisation committee, which has been responsible for many immunisation programmes, made a provisional recommendation, which NPHET has endorsed, in terms of the sequencing. All I will say is that individual Deputies may have issues around that and may have their own queries but fundamentally, we should allow the public health experts and science inform that as well. I think that if we allowed a situation where Deputies and Senators were going to decide who got what in sequence, we would be here for quite a long time in itself.

I take the Deputy's proposal on board as one that is designed to try to increase participation rates in terms of the vaccines to make sure that we get herd immunity and can eliminate this virus once and for all.

I thank the Taoiseach for his positive response. I ask that every Deputy, Senator and MEP do the same. I would appreciate it if the Taoiseach or another member of the Government spoke to those social media companies. It would be helpful in Ireland and further afield.

I have a query about next Friday and the task force, which has a set amount of work to do. What database will we use to gather the information? Since I have a background in this area, I think about this matter a great deal. This country's unique identification code is the personal public service, PPS, number. How will we gather all of the information relating to people's health, where will it be stored and do we need emergency legislation on this matter before Christmas? The House addressed many issues with the public services card, as the Ceann Comhairle remembers. I agreed with some of those issues but not others. The information on individuals to be stored in this situation will be deep and personal and will relate to their health. Do we need legislation? I presume the Government has been in touch with the Data Protection Commission in advance of this issue. What has it advised?

First, I think we should point out that about 2 million people receive the flu vaccine. We are not strangers to national immunisation programmes, although this will be of a far greater scale than we have had so far. There has been a very significant roll-out of the flu vaccination programme in itself. That worked very well, notwithstanding all of the complaints and criticisms.

Clearly, one of the task force's work streams is around an IT infrastructure to capture the data on those who have been vaccinated but also in terms of monitoring the vaccine's effectiveness, monitoring the uptake of the vaccination and supporting post-vaccination evaluation.

The common good has to prevail. This is a public health initiative designed to help the entire population in terms of the elimination of this virus, which has been so devastating for so many. Legal advice is ongoing in relation to whether legislation is required or not on a number of fronts but it is our view that as things stand at present, we are in a position to move ahead. Suffice it to say, the IT infrastructure is a key part of this situation, as are quite a number of other work streams.

Before asking my question, I take this opportunity to encourage women to use the CervicalCheck cancer screening service. CervicalCheck saves many lives every year. On 11 November, I asked the Minister for Health how many legal cases have been issued to date in respect of CervicalCheck. He replied that there had been 164 cases as of that date. That is an incredibly high figure. Each of those cases represents a woman with cancer and a family forced to fight for justice in an adversarial court system. Deputy Catherine Murphy asked the same question two weeks later and was told that there were 231 cases as of 25 November. Again, that is a shockingly high figure given the fact that the Tánaiste, Deputy Varadkar, promised the Dáil that no woman with cancer would have to go through the courts again. The Tánaiste promised that a tribunal would bring this to an end. However, that promise has not been fulfilled. Either the Department made a mistake regarding these figures or, in the two weeks between those questions being asked, almost 70 women initiated legal cases against the State in the context of CervicalCheck. This is an incredible figure and, if it is correct, it represents a massive indictment of the Government.

Patricia Carrick died in November. God rest her. The High Court found, in the context of the case she took, that in 2016 her smear test was read in a manner which was neglectful. Patricia was diagnosed with cancer in 2019, a year after the scandal relating to this matter first broke. I raised her case in the Dáil. Since then, I received a letter from CervicalCheck that was critical of my contribution. I took a meeting with the clinical director of CervicalCheck to try to thrash out these issues and better understand the situation. I was shocked by what was stated at that meeting. During the course of my engagement with it, CervicalCheck made its position clear. It disagrees with the decisions of the Supreme Court, with the initial apology of the Government and with the payment of compensation to many of these women. These are extraordinary statements in the context of a crisis that has gone on for years and with which many individuals have had such difficulty.

CervicalCheck is an arm of the State. The Government and the Supreme Court are also arms of the State. How can so many organs of the State be in direct contradiction of each other? Does this not put lives in danger?

First, I am not privy to the meeting the Deputy had. Was it with the head of CervicalCheck?

It was the clinical director of CervicalCheck.

I am not aware of what was said because, obviously, I was not at the meeting. I will check the position immediately because we must all uphold the decisions of the Supreme Court and of the courts in general. On the previous Government's decision, those who work for the State can have their views in terms of Government decisions but they must facilitate the execution of those decisions within various services. That remains the position.

Since it entered office, this Government has been doing everything possible to facilitate the establishment of the tribunal in order to create a less adversarial forum to give women who have taken cases to the courts a better alternative. Towards the latter part of the summer, judges were selected and appointed. This was because the judges who had previously been put in place had either been appointed to different positions or had moved on because of Covid-19. There was a pause during the first phase of Covid-19 and we were anxious to get the tribunal operational for women who wanted to lodge claims through their legal representatives at the tribunal. It was important that we got it established.

There were, obviously, ongoing discussions with the 221+ patient support group. It is fair to say it was not satisfied that all the issues it had raised with the Government were resolved, particularly that relating to recurrence and the Statute of Limitations. The Government took a decision a fortnight ago on the Statute of Limitations which, I believe, will ultimately enable that issue to be resolved. Obviously, in the first instance, it will be a matter for the tribunal to decide on any case with which it feels it has difficulty because of the Statute of Limitations. Due to the fact that the tribunal commenced its work later than the women would have expected, there was an obvious delay in terms of their being in a position to lodge their claims.

The issue of recurrence was well-debated in the House during the passage of the legislation. The legal issues raised by the then Minister are the same legal issues that have not enabled the Government to deal with that in the context of the tribunal. There are wide-ranging implications arising from the recurring issue, beyond CervicalCheck. The Government is very committed to seeing through the work of the tribunal and facilitating a less adversarial and confrontational, and more suitable, environment for the resolution of these issues where the laboratories would be joined as third parties, not as core defendants, because negligence has to be established, as the Deputy will be aware. The tribunal follows the work that was initiated by Mr. Justice Charles Meenan. He recommended the framework and then followed through on the Act that was passed by all parties in the House last year. We genuinely believe that the tribunal offers a better, less confrontational alternative to the courts.

The fact that we are talking about the tribunal in the future tense at this stage is incredible. The Patricia Carrick case struck me in a number of ways. How could a Government fight her in the courts, practically up to the end of her life? It was incredible. She was not the only person who has been in that situation. It also struck me that she had taken a number of smear tests before her diagnosis, yet her tests were never part of any review. The reviews commissioned by the Department and the HSE focus only on slides of women who had been diagnosed with cancer. Patricia's slide was not re-examined until it was too late.

It struck me that we are re-examining slides only if the woman has developed cancer, and in many cases, when it is too late. Given the incredibly high number of women who are going through the court system, doctors are saying in some of these cases that the smear tests, when first read, should have been seen in flashing red lights. Given the tragic loss of life to date, does it not now make sense to review a sample of the slides of the asymptomatic women to see if we can catch these cancers while we can still treat them?

In the first instance, we should draw a differential between a screening programme and diagnostic procedures in themselves. That is very important, and in some respects, the original cervical screening programme gave a sense that if one had come through the screening programme, one was okay, whereas we know that is not the case. All screening programmes are general population screening programmes-----

What if the court cases find there is a problem?

Where there is a problem and where negligence has been established, of course the laboratories are negligent in that respect. The laboratories gave an indemnity to the State in respect of that, which is why they are still, in the context of the tribunal and of the courts, joined as third parties. In the broader sense, each case can be different. I do not think we can make generalisations in regard to this-----

-----or create schemes and frameworks due to subjective analysis of a particular case. CervicalCheck screening has never been, under the older technology, the most precise of screening programmes. I think most people would acknowledge that.

There is a margin of error, but the problem is the court cases are finding that there are also mistakes beyond the margin of error.

Anything beyond the margin of error obviously needs to be pursued and dealt with and compensation should be paid.

I am glad to get the opportunity to raise with the Taoiseach problems that exist for people wishing to obtain planning - the basic right to put a roof over their heads - and the guidelines that planners have to recognise that allow young people to get planning permission.

I am also glad to get the opportunity to highlight the problem that we have with one or two serial objectors in Kerry. Even though Kerry County Council grants permission, this person appeals it to An Bord Pleanála and it always seems to happen that the planning permission is refused then. In Tomies, the late Seán Sweeney - I will name him because he went on television and went public about it - fought tooth and nail to get planning permission for his son. It was granted by Kerry County Council on two or three occasions and it was objected to and refused. That man has not yet got planning. A man from Muckross got permission from Kerry County Council and this serial objector objected. He was working 6 km away in Liebherr's and he made that objection. He lost his planning permission.

Another McCarthy family in Lauragh Upper had 365 acres, all in special areas of conservation, SAC, but Kerry County Council, in its wisdom, granted permission. An Taisce, someone 72 miles away, appealed this decision, the decision was lost and they never got permission. The young fellow, who wanted to live beside his mother after his father dying, was denied that right. Lauragh school is in trouble. Does the Taoiseach see that this rural settlement policy is denying several people? For a couple from Glencar - they are only 2 miles from Killorglin and 2 miles from Beaufort - it was a massive struggle to get permission in Beaufort even though they were only 2 miles away from there.

The Government tells us to build in the villages and the towns but with places like Kilcummin, there is no sewage treatment plan. You will not get permission in Glenbeigh, Abbeydorney or Brosna and yet the places are practically desolated. Curra was promised in 1986. For former Deputy Tom Fleming and me, Scartaglin was number three on the list; now it is on no list. Half of the massive town of Castleisland is on septic tanks. However, to say that people should move into towns is wrong too because the State does not have the infrastructure there.

We must appreciate young couples who go to the trouble of building a house for themselves as we know the cost and the trouble it takes to build social houses for people who cannot afford to build a house for themselves. In many instances, the trouble is to get planning. We must do something about it.

I thank the Deputy for raising the issue. At one level, I can understand the Deputy's point in terms of rural life, rural populations and young people on their own land not being in a position to get permission. At that level, one can empathise, particularly given the cost of housing today, that they are finding it very difficult to secure planning permissions. On the other hand, the advice to locate in villages is sound advice too. It is sound advice because it is close to services.

Except that they are not there.

From the State's perspective, the best economic use of resources is to build up the infrastructure in the towns. Deputy Danny Healy-Rae's point is valid that where towns do not have sewage treatment facilities, that presents an additional difficulty.

We considered the EPA report yesterday, for example, at the climate change Cabinet sub-committee. We are down to approximately 20 clean rivers in the country. That is not the fault of housing. That could be the intensification of agriculture or whatever. However, we have gone from 500 rivers in pristine condition to 20. We all need to reflect on that as we all seek exemptions, changes etc. It is a very serious situation in terms of our groundwater and of the quality of our rivers. When one looks at the thousands of septic tanks all over the country, one begins to see that we have a lot of work to do to clean up our rivers and to improve significantly the quality of our waters.

The Government intends to further increase the allocation of funding to Irish Water to make sure, as priority, that where any town is discharging raw sewage into rivers or harbours, we will work to ensure they have a sewage treatment plant in place. There are approximately 35 such locations at the moment. That should be an immediate priority. This will enable us to ensure that people find it easier to live in villages and towns across rural Ireland. That is something I am very committed to doing because we cannot hang around too much longer with raw sewage being discharged into rivers and harbours. This is a very challenging and serious issue. I take the Deputy's point, in some instances, but we have a real problem in terms of pollution, the environment more generally and the quality of our water supplies.

We have a problem in that many people cannot get planning permission because of designations. In a case in Belgium seven or eight years ago, the judge decided it was wrong to have designations blocking people from getting planning permission. That judgment is there and it will be contested at some stage by someone. The Government is leaving itself open to that. There is a problem in weaker rural areas. In the case of my own road from Loo Bridge to Morley's Bridge, which is 4 or 5 miles long, there were 16 or 17 families living there but now one cannot get permission to build. In the case of one of those families, there were 16 reared in a cottage on an acre. That is the gospel truth. One cannot get permission to build along that road now because it is part of a designated disadvantaged area, whereas the other side of the road is stronger. It is in the Government guidelines that the designated disadvantaged areas have to be taken together. That is what is wrong. There are another couple of townlands up the Shandrum Road where there were 24 families living. People cannot get planning permission in those places and no one can come in and build there. A lot of people are being told that they can work from home but it is not possible to get planning permission for sites in those places.

I thank the Deputy.

The virus has shown that it is safer to work and live in rural areas than in flats or apartments in this city or other cities. The Government has been promising for four or five years to bring in new guidelines. Where are those guidelines?

The Deputy should be careful what he prays for.

I am asking the Taoiseach to deal with these issues in rural Ireland and give people a chance to live there.

I have only been in office for six months. I will engage with the Minister to see where those guidelines are. My own view is that where there has been a history of habitation, there should be continued facilitation of habitation. The Deputy talked about 16 people living on one road.

There were 16 in one house.

I have walked the boreens and seen dilapidated houses, with bigger and better houses built adjacent to them. I often wonder why a dilapidated house was not retained. Someone should take those houses over, even if it is the county council, and get them back into a reasonable state for somebody to live in. I am into practical solutions but the highest environmental standards have to be attached. I am not, by nature, in favour of serial objectors. I do not like that trend and phenomenon. We have seen in forestry, for example, how it has led to terrible damage to an important industry and endangered jobs and construction output. However, I have to be honest and state that I favour the idea of concentrating development in villages and towns.

I am sorry to hear that.

That makes sense. To take up the Deputy's point, we need to build infrastructure in towns, in terms of sewage treatment plants and other facilities, that would render the situation a more enjoyable one.

Can the Taoiseach do anything about the serial objectors?

We cannot talk about it now as we have run out of time.

We live in a democracy.

It does not seem like that down below in Kerry.

I kind of think it does somehow.

We have them all over the country.

I would say they have their own version of democracy in Kerry.